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Since starting to run tours in Egypt, we get asked the same question over and over again – ‘is Egypt safe to visit?’

This question requires a detailed response which we will cover below, but in short, travel to Egypt is indeed safe if you follow some essential rules and know what to expect from your trip. Egypt can be a challenging travel destination but the good news is that the rewards are incredible, there is quite simply nowhere else like it on the planet.

is egypt safe blog temple columns
When we talk about ‘is Egypt safe?’ there is a lot to take into account, but the effort is absolutely worth it.

Personal Security in Egypt

As is always the case when traveling, looking out for your personal safety should be the top priority when in Egypt.

Safety in public places

Whenever you are out walking around tourist and religious sites, stay vigilant. Pickpocketing and petty crime is a common nuisance in busy areas but as long as you are aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables in a money belt or anti-theft bag you should be okay.

While violent crime against visitors is rare, with Egyptian authorities treating this extremely seriously, there are a number of scams that are aimed at foreign visitors you should be aware of, including:

  • Offering you a gift or to take your picture (this is particularly prevalent near the Pyramids of Giza), or to help you find a location, then when you have accepted their offer, they demand payment.
  • People coming up to you to offer their services as a tour guide, taxi driver or offering camel rides, and then when you accept their offer the price is very expensive, or different to what they originally said it would be. With camel rides the upfront price often turns out to be the cost to get on the camel, and then there is a second, much higher cost to get off.
  • When visiting ticketed tourist locations, especially at Giza, there are plenty of people pretending to be staff checking tickets. These are not official staff members, and when you show them your ticket, they will say you have the wrong one and have to pay more or alternatively you have to pay them a fine.

In general, you should exercise caution when someone approaches you unprompted, whatever the reason they give for this approach. Be sure to book experiences and travel through reputable sources to avoid being surprised by the final price.

You will need to get comfortable saying no to people trying to offer you anything. You should be polite but firm in saying no – the phrase ‘La Shukran’ means ‘no thank you’ and saying it confidently will help.

pyramid selfie egypt
While selfies like this are fun, be sure that you won’t be met by a demand for payment by only taking them with people you know

Female travelers in Egypt

There are some specific things to bear in mind for women planning to travel to Egypt.

Firstly, wearing typical Western clothing styles will draw unwanted attention, so leave the leggings and sundresses at home and instead bring loose-fitting clothes that fully cover your shoulders, midriff and knees, as well as your cleavage. If you’re planning on visiting religious sites such as mosques, you will need to be covered from elbow to ankle and cover your hair with a scarf.

Unfortunately there is a chance of being catcalled on the street, especially if you are alone. Avoid being out and about by yourself to avoid attracting attention, as a solo female traveler is much more likely to have a bad experience.

The same advice for dealing with scam attempts applies here, be confident and firm if you need to reject any attention or get out of a situation where you feel uncomfortable.

Understanding local laws and customs

Egyptian law applies equally to Egyptian citizens and visitors, so there are some essential things you need to know about to avoid any issues arising.

egypt pyramid group picture
Wearing appropriate clothing is an essential part of having a great time in Egypt, like our tour groups do!

Dressing conservatively

As mentioned above, dressing modestly is very much the norm in Egypt. This is not only restricted to women however, men are also expected to dress appropriately. While many male tourists do wear shorts in Egypt in the hot summer, this can attract some strange looks and are not appropriate for visiting religious sites, where covering knees and shoulders is essential. Removing your shoes in mosques is also mandatory for both men and women.

If you are joining a Nile cruise or spending time in the beach resorts of Sharm el Sheikh or Hurgharda, you are free to wear whatever you like, as these locations are primarily aimed at foreign visitors.

hurghada beach resort Egypt
The beach resorts, such as this one in Hurghada, are where you can wear your choice of clothing as they are primarily aimed at foreign visitors

Public displays of affection

As a very conservative and predominantly Islamic country, public displays of affection in Egypt are strongly frowned upon, even when it comes to something minimal like holding hands.

For LGBTQIA+ travelers this is even more risky, as while homosexuality is not explicitly illegal in Egypt, the local law related to public indecency have been used as the basis for arresting people openly expressing their sexuality and gender identities.

It’s best to save yourself from dealing with these issues, exercise increased caution and keep your interactions modest in public.

Alcohol laws

Drinking alcohol outside of licensed bars, restaurants and hotels is strictly prohibited, so if you purchase alcohol during your trip, make sure not to open it until you are back at your accommodation to avoid any problems with the local authorities.

During the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset, alcohol is harder to find, but the major hotels and resorts will still provide alcohol to foreign tourists.

Taking photographs

It sounds a bit odd to include taking pictures in safety travel advice, but there has always been a need for caution here.

You should ask permission before taking pictures or video of people to avoid causing offence, particularly in the markets where people do not always appreciate being treated like an attraction. It’s technically necessary to have written permission from Egyptian citizens to take their picture, but verbal permission is acceptable.

In addition, taking pictures of children, military, police or government buildings, members of the military or police forces is not allowed. This is strongly enforced, there are many stories of people being asked to delete pictures from their cellphone or camera, so be careful of what and who you are photographing during your trip.

picture of local in egypt at sunset
It’s respectful to ask before taking pictures of locals, such as this one, wherever you are in Egypt

Join us on an adventure in Egypt!

Egypt needs almost no introduction – you have likely dreamed about seeing the icons of Egypt such as the Pyraminds and King Tut. On this tour we will see those sights but also expand your understanding of the Ancient Egyptian past. You’ll soar above the Valley of the Kings in a hot air balloon, watch the banks of the Nile pass from your stateroom on a Nile cruiser, and taste the life of Indiana Jones as you wander the markets of Cairo (no whip necessary). Besides the classic Egyptian travel experiences, we will also introduce you to contemporary Egyptian culture, the Islamic religion, and wrap it up with a day aboard a yacht enjoying the natural beauty of the Red Sea.

Staying healthy in Egypt

The last thing you want when you travel to Egypt is to be stuck in your hotel room because you feel unwell, so staying healthy is super important.

Drinking water

Stick to bottled water rather than tap water, as water supply conditions vary across the country and sometimes tap water will be unsafe to drink. Make sure the seal of your bottle is intact before opening it as well.

Minimize the amount of ice in your drinks unless you know it has been made with bottled or treated water.

Egyptian food

While there is some absolutely delicious food to be enjoyed in Egypt, we’d recommend avoiding anything raw or undercooked when dining to prevent getting ill.

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, if you haven’t peeled or cut it yourself give it a pass unless it’s been cooked, and be careful about ordering street food as not all vendors have the same food preparation standards. If you’re traveling as part of a tour group, your tour leader will be able to direct you to the more reputable spots.

egypt dinner table
Bottled water and lots of perfectly prepared food makes for a delicious meal in Egypt

Protecting yourself

Make sure to bring plenty of sunblock with a high SPF, the climate here is hot and it’s easy to get burnt when you’re walking around tourist sites all day. It’s also easy to get dehydrated so keep drinking plenty of water.

There are no required vaccinations for Egypt but the CDC recommends that you are up to date on routine vaccines before you travel. There is a very low risk of Malaria now, but using plenty of insect repellent is a good idea to prevent nasty mosquito bites.

Finally, having good travel insurance set up is essential. It’s unlikely that something will go wrong, but if it does, having that travel insurance as your back up provides real peace of mind to help with costs, potential medical evacuation or other related medical needs.

Traveling around Egypt

Egypt is a large country and the tourist areas are found in many places, so you’ll need to know how to stay safe while traveling.

Getting around in Cairo

While there is a metro system and bus network in Cairo, the most straightforward and safe way to get around is by taxi. You can use Uber, which minimizes any hassle negotiating a price or trying to explain your destination if you don’t know Arabic, or the many white taxis that are everywhere. If you use a white taxi, make sure the meter is on and working before you get in.

There are still some older black taxis in service, but these should absolutely be avoided. Meters won’t work, they frequently breakdown and frankly, with the wide availability of white taxis and Uber, it’s simply not necessary to take the risk.

One final note, if you’re tempted to rent a car, don’t. Just don’t. Cairo’s traffic has to be seen to be believed and there is really no benefit to having your own car, plus the chances of an accident happening are very high.

Plus, if you’re thinking of using a rental car to take trips out of the city, bear in mind that there are multiple checkpoints in place managed by the Egyptian police and military personnel which have to be navigated and you need special permission to drive on certain roads. It really is much more straightforward to hire a tour guide with a driver who will take care of all of this for you.

cairo traffic
The traffic in Cairo is on another level, trust us, you really do not want to deal with it yourself!

Egypt train travel

Egypt’s rail network is limited but offers regular services between Cairo and Alexandria, as well as Cairo and the Nile Valley destinations of Luxor and Aswan.

There are different types of trains with varying levels of comfort, with daytime and sleeper services available, but as these are used primarily by visitors, there are security forces at the stations and on the trains for security.

The trains aren’t the most luxurious mode of transportation but they are safe and cheaper than flying internally.

Internal flights

You can take internal flights across Egypt, including to the popular tourist destinations like Luxor, Aswan and Sharm el Sheikh. Taking these flights is usually quicker than taking the train, but are generally more expensive.

At Egyptian airports there is a fairly heavy security presence. Airports have multiple sets of security checks, one when you first enter the building and then another after you have checked your hold luggage, and you generally cannot get inside without showing proof of your flight, so the terminals are extremely safe.

Egypt’s airlines have to comply with strict safety standards and their aircraft fleets are in line with what you are used to, so they offer a comfortable way to explore.

view from airplane on internal egypt flight
The views on internal flights in Egypt are incredible, and perfectly safe to travel on

Stay up to date with the latest government advice

The final element to staying safe in Egypt is possibly the most important, and that is to be aware of the latest travel advice, from both the Egyptian government and your own government.

With Egypt being such a diverse country, it is difficult to apply general travel advice as often advisories are specific to a particular region. Advice relating to the Sinai peninsula does not tend to apply to the beach resorts of Sharm el Sheikh, and the western desert area with its land borders is a completely different place to Cairo.

The US State Department and other nations websites provide details of any potential concerns, as well as general travel information.

Before you leave for Egypt, make sure you know where to access consular services just in case. It is extremely unlikely you will need to contact your country’s embassy, but it’s good to be prepared.

If you need to call the emergency services in Egypt, dial 126 for the tourist police, 123 for the regular police and 123 for an ambulance. The operators likely will speak some English but this is not guaranteed.

nile boat tour guide
Traveling with an expert guide like our friend Hoda is the perfect way to have an enjoyable time in Egypt, allowing you to take advantage of their local knowledge and experience

While there are some challenges to traveling in Egypt, these are easily dealt with by being prepared for what to expect. You can indeed travel safely, but the best way to do this is to book your travel with a reputable tour company who will take care of everything for you, allowing you to experience all the incredible things Egypt has to offer.

Wondering where to get started with your trip to Egypt? Contact us today to discuss our Egypt tours or to arrange something more bespoke.




AWS Staff

This post was published by the Adventures with Sarah team. Click here to find out more about the people that make everything at AWS happen.

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